Archive for Monday, March 15, 2010

Putting up the fight of his life: Baker student finds resources to battle cancer

Rex Prior was first diagnosed with testicular cancer at age 8. The Baker University student had a recurrence of the cancer in 2008 when it returned at stage IV. Since that time, Prior has been living his life around medical procedures, treatments and part-time jobs.

Rex Prior was first diagnosed with testicular cancer at age 8. The Baker University student had a recurrence of the cancer in 2008 when it returned at stage IV. Since that time, Prior has been living his life around medical procedures, treatments and part-time jobs.

March 15, 2010

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Rex Prior: A personal cancer story

Baker University student Rex Prior, 35, talks about the recent return of a cancer that had been originally diagnosed at age 8. Enlarge video

Baker student Rex Prior received chemotherapy treatments at Lawrence Memorial Hospital in December. He will receive a stem cell transplant Monday at Kansas University Hospital.

Baker student Rex Prior received chemotherapy treatments at Lawrence Memorial Hospital in December. He will receive a stem cell transplant Monday at Kansas University Hospital.

Rex Prior, 34, was first diagnosed with testicular cancer at age 8. The Baker University student had a recurrence of the cancer in 2008 when it returned at stage IV. Since that time, Rex has been living his life around medical procedures, treatments and part-time jobs.  He's now working in Baker's sports medicine facility.

Rex Prior, 34, was first diagnosed with testicular cancer at age 8. The Baker University student had a recurrence of the cancer in 2008 when it returned at stage IV. Since that time, Rex has been living his life around medical procedures, treatments and part-time jobs. He's now working in Baker's sports medicine facility.

Stories of survival

This is the first in a series of stories profiling cancer survivors.

Rex Prior was only 8 years old when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

Twenty-six years later, in December 2008, the Baker University student was rushed to the emergency room at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, where a blood clot was discovered in his lung. He was told that his cancer, diagnosed as stage IV, was back.

He went through “really rough chemotherapy” that kept him in the hospital for the majority of his treatment because of his reaction to cancer-killing drugs.

Prior dealt with his illness without help from his family. His mother was ill and his father had moved to Oklahoma.

But, he said: “I still had Baker.”

His school, along with the oncology staff at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and some friends, made sure Prior was taken care of after leaving the hospital and made arrangements for him to live in a nursing home so he wasn’t alone. Prior’s dad moved to Kansas to live with him.

“Being a cancer patient profoundly affected my life because when you’re in school and you’re trying to do your best, life’s difficult enough. And then you throw something like cancer into the mix,” he said.

Now, Prior’s cancer has returned again. His already complicated, financially disastrous life has become even more complex.

Cancer has taken his home. It’s taken his job. It would have taken his car had an LMH social worker, Dona Snead, not spoken to the car company on his behalf while he was in the hospital.

Now, he’s a patient at the Kansas University Hospital in Kansas City, Kan., where he’s scheduled to undergo a stem cell transplant today. He hopes the procedure helps his body fight the cancer nodules.

“There are a lot of them around my heart and lungs,” he said. “They’re all in my body. But the one they’re most concerned about is near my heart.”

Until the most recent diagnosis that his cancer had returned, Prior had worked in Baker’s sports medicine office. Now he’s had to quit school and the job he so enjoyed.

As a patient in the transplant program, he must live within 30 minutes of the hospital. A friend who runs a motel is giving him the best rate possible on a room.

“By the time this is over with,” he said Friday, “I’m going to be completely broke.”

But Prior isn’t focusing on that problem. He’s funneling his energy into getting better.

“I don’t give up, I don’t quit,” he said. “They thought I’d be dead by now.”

He’s planning a return to school, to complete the last two years of work before he earns his bachelor’s degree. This time, he’ll probably enroll in online courses so he can stay at home.

And, of course, he’ll be battling cancer.

“Just never give in,” Prior said. “Always fight it.”

— Caroline Trowbridge, Journal-World assignment director, contributed to this story.

Comments

Kelly Johnson 5 years, 3 months ago

I'm so impressed with this man's determination and strength. I wish you all the best in everything!

henryboss15 5 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

eatatrex 5 years, 3 months ago

I hope for the best for you. The Oncology Dept at Lawrence hospital is the best..Im just getting over the treatment I had for cancer and I couldn't of asked for better care than what I recived. From Donna, Dr.Setin to all the nurses and staff what a great office they run ... I could never thank them enough !!!!!

Arizona 5 years, 3 months ago

No mention of an opportunity to donate money. Is that possible?

Lothar 5 years, 3 months ago

Even after all the challenges in his life, Rex has never given up or stopped fighting. I call it an honor to have him as my friend. As for donations for Rex, I don't think that any of us had ever thought about it, but it may be possible. I need to talk to him about that.

eventmedic 5 years, 3 months ago

I know Rex He is one of my best Frieds. He is a strong man with one big big heart. As he fights he is trying to get a company going at the same time.. He is doing good going thrue treatments now and it looks like it is helping. Im seting up a fund to help with donations Please e-mail me at daddywolfe1979@yahoo.com. I know that he wold love all the help that he can get. Im a Manager at a motel in Olathe, Ks and he as to stay at the motel to be 30 min from KU. we where not able to geve him a free room but it is discounted down. We that are a few places that are trying to pay for the room and we are doing what we can. I know all of his friends love him and are keeping him in our thoughts.

Bill Mills

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